Federation-Apocalypse Log 44: The Linear Realms

   Fortunately enough, getting everyone back together proved straightforward.

“Hey Marty! How’d it go?”

“Oh, pretty good. Limey turned the entire staff of the INS office into animals though. And I helped humble a coworker.”

“Hm. Maybe some of those scrolls we gave him had more than one spell on them.”

“Yeah, I was going to ask you about that lightning bolt . . .”

“I forgot until I looked it up, but scrolls can have up to seven spells on them, and we were only checking the first titles.”

“That’ll teach us! At least the little guy can protect himself from the union.”

“Sounds like it. Of course, it might just be really easy to transform people in Battling Business World: realms like that are often heavily populated with talking animals and things.”

“It was funny as hell! And let me tell you, that’s one bureaucrat who’s going to be sober for a while!”

“I found a clue actually: those bloody memes might be related to the Linear Realms – and those might be worth checking into anyway. There are apparently a lot more real people there than I would have expected from some random realm – and I couldn’t find much on the history either.”

“Huh. At least one of us got some work done.”

“Hey, always best to mix a little work with your pleasure!”

   Meanwhile, the Mirage had been doing training exercises with the Orcs. It had found itself to be much more capable since partaking of the fountain’s waters – and it would very much like to learn what the cadets were able to show it about magic. That was easy enough to arrange: it would give them all something to do while Jarvain was in therapy – and when everyone else was doing things in places where the Mirage would have a hard time fitting in.

   Marty spent some time checking on business affairs; the visit home had that sort of thing at the forefront of his mind. Baelaria had the trade routes up and running, and profits were pouring in – along with occasional recruits for Kevin. The core offices had been getting quite a lot of business, especially for gatekeeping services, with bodyguard, search and rescue, and spellcasting (divination, transmutation, communication, healing, and the occasional enchantment) running a close second. Meme issues had largely been the occasional computer alert and censorship of media streams for periods of time.

   There had been several inquiries as to why a bunch of adolescents were running such a business – and as to where they’d come from and who they worked for. They hadn’t been shy about saying they worked for Amarant Solutions of course – which had led to a dozen different people wanting to talk to whoever was in charge, although they mostly left rather than leaving messages except a number (always the same one) to call when informed that that person was out of touch at the moment.

   Marty considered setting up an expert system to impersonate him – but decided that simply giving one of the employees a middle-management or secretarial title (and maybe having them shapeshift to look older) would be easier – while Kevin wondered why the offices weren’t attracting more attention than that.

   They went to Kadia, made sure there was a meme filter running on the line (just in case) and Marty called while Kevin did his recruiting spiel. He promptly got put through to a young man at a desk who wanted to ask a few questions – and identified himself as Rael Thomas, a salesman for Holston Communications (a quick private search showed that as a minor firm, apparently originating from, and possibly based in, the Manifold. It had handled some minor advertising campaigns on earth and a few of the major colony worlds at modest expense and with mediocre results. The number did match, albeit as a private line. Still a startup, too small to have generated a lot of records, and probably looking for new clients. Could be a cover, could be a sideline like theirs, or it could be just a new niche player). An advertising company. Well, Marty understood that; they got the general spiel on available services. Now that they were established, advertising wouldn’t hurt a bit.

   Rael did do some probing about the adolescents manning things, and as to how fascinating it was “to find so many talented young men and women willing to do such desperately needed work”. He was afraid that they might have to take some liberties in portraying employees in advertising though: people were more inclined to trust difficult tasks to adults. Perhaps he could handle advertising for some older personnel as well?

   Well, for Manifold operations, they needed sharp, physically fit, and well-educated people who didn’t mind travel and had good nerves. Office staff could be almost any qualified applicant.

   Rael would call back – or contact one of the offices – with a few proposals shortly.

   Meanwhile, Kevin had been making his usual pitch to his 79 selected applicants, 70 youngsters who had been slaves from birth, and another 107 who had been purchased in various places around the manifold.

   Unsurprisingly, the Thrall-selected applicants and slaves-from-birth (throughly used to the idea of belonging to someone) almost all (141 out of 149) signed up, as usual. Only 29 of the others signed up, but there were only 23 who need a bit of memory-blurring and being sent home (and only 11 from Core). The rest had noplace to go, so they got put on staff in Kadia.

   It was pointless trying to keep exact track of the Neodogs. Admittedly, only about 20% of them were young enough to be eligible, and only about 35% of those actually accepted enthrallment – but an net 7% of 186,417 purchases was quite a few. There were even a few from among the eight thousand or so free NeoDogs who’d signed up for jobs.

   It was an embarrassment of riches… He’d had been so SURE that deep-level rebelliousness and/or incompatibility with a human soul-bond would keep the numbers down! He would have been surprised at a tenth that number! Pleased with a HUNDRETH!

   He didn’t dare actually put them to use on anything outside of Kadia simply for fear of what kind of reaction he might provoke. Even there, he had to make sure that he reoriented their basic “obey humans” genetic obedience-programming to HIM as opposed to any human – even if it wasn’t as powerful as the Thrallbond or genuine neural programming, it was still a powerful instinct, and one he didn’t need when they were going to be supervising humans who were recovering from the violence memes.

   Any who didn’t accept got memory removal and an innocuous orientation lecture substituted, just in case – and the new Thralls simply got regular Kadia jobs for the moment. It was a waste, but Kevin just wasn’t powerful enough to open that can of worms yet. The military and the House of Roses were nervous enough just on the strength of Kevin’s ability to power-share with normal kids.

   It was bloody lucky that he’d shielded and warded Kadia, both in it’s definition and with the best spells he could work locally – and that was pretty good. There were advantages to building your own realm.

   Come to think of it, it would make a good spot for the House to drop by to talk about their “special projects” (recruiting efforts and others). He let them know that – and found that the House wanted a chance to discuss planet-moving with the military a bit more before he came by Core again. The Thralls could refer recruit-prospects to Kadia as well, and they could probably be back in a few days.

   And the military was wasting their own time, and that of the Thralls he’d assigned them, with stupid, repetitious, interrogations about Kevin. He gave the Thralls permission to go ahead and get cranky and put up passive resistance (like shapechanging into koalas) when they got too fed up with it. It wasn’t like they actually HAD any information except about the pact – and they weren’t even asking much about the details of that.

   Speaking of Memes, that seemed like a good spot to start: an expedition to the Linear Realms was certainly in order. It looked like you could get there most readily from Anarch – and Crusader offered easy access to Anarch.

   Crusader had the usual battles running, but they didn’t bother to get involved in those. The gate was in the back of a “Radio Shack” (some old chain apparently), so they picked up a signal jammer, white noise generator, and a box of smoke grenades on the way through.

   In Anarch they came out in a back alley by a free medical clinic, on a cold winter day. It didn’t look like a new plague though; just lots of poor people in desperate need of treatment. Keven left a couple of the new Thralls to keep an eye on the gate, to help out at the clinic, to heal if they wanted to, and to give the place a donation – unless it turned out to be a front, in which case they could do whatever they wanted to.

   The gate to the Linear Realms was – of course – in an apartment complex near one of the larger Arcologies. The elevator wasn’t working of course, and it was twelve and a half floors up. No wonder it didn’t see all that much use.

   In the Linear Realms they’d almost certainly wind up with local criminal roles – Kevin as a child-slaver and criminal dealer, Marty probably as some sort of blackmailer, extortionist, fixer, or crooked businessman, and Jamie would probably be a generic thug of some sort.

   Kevin warned them all to remember that law enforcement there tended to be humane, but had LOTS of reinforcements available if they needed them; it would be best to try not to make too big a fuss unless they had to. They concealed their weapons, looked a bit shabby, and made sure that they wouldn’t stand out too much.

   The gate came out in a large hallway: doorway BH1387 in a lengthy serious of somewhat shabby doorways. They made a careful note of that – but there was nobody around.

   In this world? What was going on? They needed a public information screen and a history check on those killer memes.

   Wait: there was somebody. An older guy with a floorsweeper by the plaza. A public datascreen too. OK: Complex BH, Floor 13, current news was the latest sports and media trivia, more corruption scandals in the government, civil disorder in block ZG, communications out at some substation and so data traffic is being rerouted expect delays, discussions about who really is in control of the linear developments and discussions on the latest medical breakthroughs in treating various behavioral and nervous disorders.

   At least none of them were currently on the “Most Wanted” list and his local agents didn’t have any major warnings to offer. Still nobody in sensing range except the cleaning guy though. What the hell?

   The floor sweeper yielded a bit of information: everyone was at a Revival down in the Auditorium. He would have gone as well, but his boss had refused to give him any time off. It was the preacher Walkins speaking. His message was for the salvation of their very souls, souls that had been rotting in this cardboard world they had been born in.

   It had to be one heck of an event though to get all the illegal kids, all the crooks, and EVERYONE out though. It sounded like they needed to see it.

“Should be fun if the piety doesn’t make us throw up.”

“I suspect a total lack of real piety here.”

“Hey, the imitation of piety is far worse than the real thing”

“After all – “Cardboard World” – a preacher called “Walk-In”… Lets head on over.”

   They slipped the janitor some cash and headed on over.

   The auditorium was vast, and full of people. Every fire code on the books about maximum occupancy was being violated. There were numerous large screens showing what was happening onstage, and dozens of people huddled around portable little viewscreen units. Getting a look at the stage itself might be tricky though; the crowd was easily in the hundreds of thousands.

   Somebody was playing major games. Why would a space like this even exist? It would make crowd control and maintaining order quite impossible. Hundreds of thousands? In a society where everyone was crowded into little apartments for maximum use of space and early virtual events were possible?

   It looked like walls had been ripped out and structural supports redone to support the ceiling.

   The spiel was being broadcast in high definition from somewhere nearby. It consisted mainly of lamenting the suffering the people in the linears had to endure and inflict on each other merely in pursuit of the right to have the children they wanted. Of how precious children were, and how by working together and pooling resources, they might be able to take control of their lives and their destinies. How this very auditorium was an example of such power, where once there were walls closing people out from each other and forcing interactions through little viewscreens instead of in person, now there was a great space and a community to fill it. It went on and on…

   The response was entirely out of proportion to the logical content. Kevin started recording for material and running an analysis looking for repetitive images, sounds, and sequences – and especially subliminals. The man was a good speaker, and could have drawn a following – but this close to 100%? You couldn’t get that high a percentage of the population to agree that the earth was round without cheating somehow.

   There was indeed a hidden layer in the transmission, although it was very subtle. Was this sort of thing routine for this world? Kevin hadn’t been looking for anything like it the last time around – and where was law enforcement? Unwilling to risk a mass riot? Ah. On the perimeter, trying to hide their numbers – although it was easy to see the nervousness in their stance.

   Much as it pained them to admit it, for once they might be on the side of law enforcement.

   The subtle layer itself appeared to be a mixture of small changes in color, brightness, and several other visual factors, the sound seemed to have been modified slightly in tone and inflection, with possible frequency shifts and changes in volume. All subtle, but certainly not normal. It looked to be designed to work on the lower levels of consciousness.

   Kevin slipped up on some midranking enforcement type and showed him the data – and inquired as to whether the subliminals in this spiel were allowable. That ought to get a reaction, since they’d need a supercomputer to find the stuff in a week with their technology. Besides, it didn’t look like they could handle a crowd this large.

   The cop took a look and started sweating.

“Kid, is this for real? Please tell me you are not jacking with me here. I am not in the mood for these kinds of sick jokes.”

“Quite real.”

“Good God”

“How did you think it got this kind of audience penetration? It’s got to be what, 99.99%?” This relies on subtlety. I’d suggest dropping some harmonics into the power supply in the audio and video-feed frequencies and varying them randomly. Everywhere if possible.”

“I was sincerely hoping that this was one of those cult things that occasionally occur and subsequently implode. You know how religions can be. This is unlike anything we have ever seen before… Not a bad idea on the harmonics, I’ll radio the commissioner and have him contact the power company. In the meantime, this may get ugly fast. If you have any sense, you will get out of here and keep your head down.”

   Well, judging from the records this usually wound up with “go home and pray” – which was good, since Kevin didn’t think he could talk this many down, Marty though that violence and intimidation would only start a stampede, and even Jamie didn’t have enough tranquilizer gas to accomplish much against a half a million people. Given the locally-enhanced range for psychic effects Kevin could broadcast “calm” over quite a radius – but that would certainly draw official attention and he could only generate a mood, not control thousands of minds.

   Kevin recommended that they – and the cops – hold back and let them disperse quietly if that was at all possible. They probably had a few more minutes before the data he’d provided got up high enough to make the authorities want to talk to them VERY badly – as in “How did you conduct that analysis?” and “Who are you anyway?”.

   They gave the cop a copy of the data and departed quietly while he was busy explaining what he wanted done over the radio.

   Besides, while the gatherings themselves were never violent, there was a marked increase in dead bodies that appeared in the related districts afterwards – usually identifiable as wanted criminals. That made sense: they were preaching unity, not putting up with exploitation. Of course, it also meant that they might be in trouble if they were recognized somehow.

   Still, they were in the right place for some research. The meme and sensory-based mind manipulation techniques are well established in this reality.

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Deadlands-Exalted Bestiary

   When the Dualistic Exalted were out wandering around the universe, one of the places they visited was the world of Deadlands – in particular, the futuristic version or Wasted West (rather than the classical Weird West). Naturally enough, that called for converting some monsters.

   If you want detailed descriptions, backgrounds, pictures, and so on, you’ll want to take a look at the original Deadlands books (the Deadlands system is pretty good, and well worth a look if you can find it anyway). It should be noted that generic Deadlands creatures are designed to be something that a group of normal people can handle with difficulty, while some of the major ones can only be permanently destroyed by figuring out their special weaknesses. A group of major Exalts won’t have a lot of trouble with most of the generic ones, although Dualistic Exalts can be challenged a lot more readily.

   Quite a lot of the Deadlands monsters are – of course – undead. In general, all Undead have the following special powers:

  • Undead need not breathe, cannot be poisoned, know no fear, and do not bleed. They have a base Bashing Soak of (Sta +2) and Lethal Soak of half that, some extra health levels and heal as Exalted given appropriate resources. They take special measures (often destroying their brains or hearts or killing them in particular ways) to finish off – although they can be incapacitated normally.
  • When a greater (named) undead is destroyed, it leaves a residue of it’s power behind. A character who absorbs that residue will gain some power related to the original entity – a process called “counting coup”. Any other undead, mortals who’ve spent a year or more in a shadowland, anyone with an active essence pool, and anyone with innate mystical powers is eligible.
  • Many other mystical abominations leave a similar power-residue.

Automaton (Crazy Robot, Terminator, etc)

Physical

Str

6

 

Dex

3

 

Sta

8

Social

Chr

2

 

Man

1

 

App

1

Mental

Per

4

 

Int

2

 

Wit

2

  • Willpower 6, regains 1 whenever it kills someone.
  • Abilities: Athletics 1, Awareness 2, Brawl 2, Dodge 1, Firearms 4, Stealth 1, Survival 1
  • Specialities: Intimidation 3
  • Health Levels: 4x -0,4x -1, and 4x -2
  • Special Powers; Armor 6 (Total 14B/10L), built-in Chain Gun (10L, may use autofire modifiers) and Grenade Launcher (standard grenades) which may both be fired once a round without penalty. Unlike most Undead, Automatons have no special protection against bashing damage. Being undead, they are immune to pain (they have health levels), fear, and appeals to compassion.
  • Automatons are clunky ghost-rock powered robots piloted by undead brains. They are vicious, cunning, and like to kill. Unlike most Undead, they do rely on a working body of sorts and so have no special protection against bashing damage and can only heal at the mortal rate – and even then only with spare parts.

Black Hat (Generic human bad guy)

Physical

Str

3

 

Dex

3

 

Sta

3

Social

Chr

2

 

Man

2

 

App

2

Mental

Per

2

 

Int

2

 

Wit

2

  • Willpower 5, regain 1 whenever they get away…
  • Abilities: Athletics 1, Awareness 1, Brawl 2, Dodge 1, Drive 1, Firearms 2, Larceny 1, Medicine 1, Stealth 1, Survival 2, Thrown 1.
  • Specialities: Demolition 1, Gambling 2
  • Health Levels: -0, -1, -1, -2, -2, -4, Incapacitated.
  • Equipment; Scavenged Kevlar (4l/2B, net 4L/5B), Assault Rifle (8L, may autofire), Combat Knife (+1L, no other mods), Fragmentation Grenades (6L). The rifle and grenades are booby-trapped.
  • Black Hats are simply brutal human thugs, and are only really dangerous to heroes due to the fact that they come in swarms and are reasonably well armed. Elite Black Hats are usually a little more skilled, but rarely very much so.

Blast Shadow (Intangible life-leech)

Physical

Str

 

Dex

 

Sta

Social

Chr

4

 

Man

3

 

App

Mental

Per

3

 

Int

2

 

Wit

2

  • Willpower 8, regain 1 per day embodied
  • Abilities: None of it’s own. They may use whatever physically-based skills a host possessed while alive.
  • Specialities: As above
  • Special Powers; Blast Shadows look like nothing more than darker patches among other shadows. When a human’s shadow touches a shadow that hosts it, the Blast Shadow moves into the humans shadow – from where it drains the victims life away at one level of bashing damage per hour. Once the victim dies, the Blast Shadow occupies his or her body until it too fades away in 1d6 days. Killing the body simply forces the Shadow back into intangibility – but getting rid the shadows it hides in will permanently destroy a Blast Shadow. Noticing that your shadow is misbehaving requires a D3 Awareness check.

Bloodwolf (Abomination)

Physical

Str

8

 

Dex

6

 

Sta

6

Social

Chr

6

 

Man

8

 

App

2

Mental

Per

4

 

Int

2

 

Wit

7

  • Willpower 8, regain 1 per victim drained.
  • Abilities: Athletics 2, Awareness 1, Brawl 2, Dodge 1, Perform 3, Stealth 3, Survival 3.
  • Specialities: Intimidation 2
  • Health Levels: 3x -0, 4x -1, 2x -4, Paralyzed. Can only be slain by impaling their heart with a silver weapon, burning the carcass, and scattering the ashes. 8B and 4L Soak.
  • Special Powers; Undead, Claws/Bite at (Str+2)L or 6B if they’ve grabbed someone and are draining blood. This restores their willpower and allows healing, but they can’t attack anyone else while feeding. While they can be immobilized with a silver stake through the heart, it’s usually easier just to blow them apart. Luckily, they aren’t infectious.
  • Bloodwolves are Vampire-Werewolf Abominations, and are among the most physically dangerous and durable of the lesser (unnamed) undead.

Croaker (Deep One, Reptile-Man, Etc)

Physical

Str

2

 

Dex

2

 

Sta

3

Social

Chr

2

 

Man

2

 

App

1

Mental

Per

2

 

Int

2

 

Wit

2

  • Willpower 6, regain one per 12 hours in water
  • Abilities: Archery 2, Athletics 2, Awareness 2, Brawl 2, Dodge 2, Faith 2 (The base for their spells), Stealth 2, Survival 2, and Throwing 2
  • Specialities: Swimming 3
  • Health Levels: 2x -0, 2x -1, 2x -2, -4, Incapacitated. 5B and1L Soak without external armor or spells. Special Powers; Tough Skin (1L/2B Soak), +2L claws and fangs, Most have one or two spells/”miracles” (Commonly a protective armor spell and either a shield versus ranged attacks [Subtracts dice from attacks and covers a group] or a standard thaumaturgic attack).
  • Croakers are generic lovecraftian fish-people who like to sacrifice humans to their dark gods. Shamans will have more spells, +2 will, and Faith 4. They usually carry crossbows and come in small swarms. A heroic human is usually a match for several of them, which is WHY they come in swarms – or small armies.

Dog of War

Physical

Str

4

 

Dex

5

 

Sta

4

Social

Chr

2

 

Man

2

 

App

2

Mental

Per

2

 

Int

2

 

Wit

2

  • Willpower 6, regain one per day
  • Abilities: Brawl 3, Dodge 2, Stealth 1, Survival 3
  • Specialities: Intimidate 2
  • Health Levels: 2x -0, 2x -1, 2x -2, -4, Incapacitated.
  • Special Powers; Undead (6B/3L Soak), Bite (6L), and Raise Pack (Up to 24 Lesser Dogs of War given 1d6 days).
  • Lesser Dogs of War are simply undead dogs and wolves. Use standard canines, give them an extra -0 and -1 Health Level and the usual undead Soak.
  • The Dogs of War were created by War to harass people and are about the weakest of all named undead. Upon encountering a new group – or an old one with a new member – the Alpha simply sends a pack charging in. If they’re destroyed, well, that’s a group to avoid in the future. If anyone manages to chase down and kill a pack Alpha, they gain a point of Valor (since this greatly encourages fighting, that may be the point). Characters who lack virtues gain an undead canine companion instead. No matter how often it’s blown up or driven off, a new one will always turn up in 1D6 days.

Doomsayers

Physical

Str

2

 

Dex

2

 

Sta

3

Social

Chr

3

 

Man

3

 

App

1

Mental

Per

3

 

Int

2

 

Wit

2

  • Willpower 6, Essence 2, Essence Pool 12
  • Abilities: Academics 1, Athletics 1, Awareness 1, Brawl 1, Drive 1, Faith 2, Firearms 1, Leadership 1, Medicine 1, Performance 1, Presence 1, Stealth 1, Survival 2, and Thrown 2.
  • Specialities: Oratory 1
  • Health Levels: -0, -1, -1, -2, -2, -4, Incapacitated. 3B base Soak, but many scrounge up some armor.
  • Special Powers; Active essence pool, 4-8 radiation-based spells (usually including energy bolt, explosion, and induce harmful mutation), Radiation Tolerance and a random benign mutation.
  • These radiation priests support the mutant crusade against normal humanity. Luckily, they’re more fanatical than competent – and weren’t in the best of shape even before being irradiated.
  • Doombringers
    • Doombringers are simply Undead Doomsayers, and are almost identical – except as shown below:
    • Willpower 6, Essence 4, Essence Pool 18
    • Health Levels: -0, -0, -0, -1, -1, -1, -1, -2, -2, and Incapacitated. 2L and 5B Soak. They return in 1d6 days unless slain by radiation magic. If actually slain, the killer may gain armor-2 versus radiation damage.
    • Special Powers; Undead, Active essence pool, 6-8 radiation-based spells (usually including energy bolt, explosion, blinding flash, and induce harmful mutation), Radiation Tolerance and two benign mutations.
    • Fortunately – especially since only thirty or forty people on earth are actually capable of killing them – Doombringers are relatively rare and are invariably quite mad. Of course, when one is temporarily “killed” it’s first order of business when it comes back is to hunt down it’s “killer”.

Hangin’ Judge

Physical

Str

5

 

Dex

4

 

Sta

3

Social

Chr

5

 

Man

3

 

App

2

Mental

Per

4

 

Int

2

 

Wit

5

  • Willpower 7, regain 1 per victim
  • Abilities: Awareness 3, Firearms 3, Melee 3, Riding 2, Stealth 2, Survival 3
  • Specialities: Pistols 2
  • Health Levels: 6x -0, 6x -1, 6x -2, Incapacitated. 5B and 1L Soak but can only be harmed by someone who’s either innocent and uncorrupted or is honestly dedicated to enforcing some sort of “law and order” justly. Each has a unique weakness related to their methods of executing “criminals”, and can only be truly destroyed by exploiting it. A judge which somehow gets rid of its weakness gets a new one, which it won’t know about, on the spot.
  • Special Powers; Undead, Each uses a weapon or pair of weapons which never runs out of ammunition and can inflict 8L damage in HTH. Some can summon nightmarish steeds as well.
  • Hangin’ Judges are created from those villains who viciously exploit positions of public trust and authority for their own gain and sadistic pleasure. Regardless of how they accomplished this in life, they have become literal destroyers of lives in undeath, solitary, merciless, and relentless hunters of whoever they decide is their prey this night. Any eligible character who truly destroys one can claim their weapons as a coup.

Los Diablos

Physical

Str

9

 

Dex

1

 

Sta

5

Social

Chr

5

 

Man

3

 

App

2

Mental

Per

4

 

Int

2

 

Wit

4

  • Willpower 6, regain 1 per day
  • Abilities: Awareness 1, Athletics 1, Brawl 2, Presence 1, Stealth 1,
  • Specialities: Intimidation 3
  • Health Levels: 2x -0, 4x -1, 3x -2, Incapacitated, Dead. 11B and 6L Soak. A Los Diablo can only harm, or be harmed by, characters with either Valor 5 and Will 8+ OR virtueless characters with Will 10.
  • Special Powers; Armor 6L/6B, Horns and Hooves inflict 12L damage on eligible targets, Fearless, Induce Fear (the Los Diablos take four nights to locate their target(s). Each night the target(s) lose a point of temporary willpower), and Poltergeist Swarm (they’re accompanied by a swarm of minor ghosts who run off or knock out anyone who might assist the valid targets.
  • Whether known as Gorgons, Minotaurs, Judges of Hell, or Oni, the Los Diablos are always hero-killers. They may only appear when at least one character in the group can harm or be harmed by them and when the group has foiled a major evil plot. Hiding is useless, but if you kill one you get +1 Valor and +3L/3B Soak.

Lurker

Physical

Str

8

 

Dex

1

 

Sta

4

Social

Chr

3

 

Man

2

 

App

0

Mental

Per

2

 

Int

2

 

Wit

2

  • Willpower 4, regain 1 per victim
  • Abilities: Athletics 1, Awareness 2, Brawl 2,
  • Specialities: None.
  • Health Levels: 6x -0, 6x -1, 6x -2, Incapacitated. 16B and 12L Soak
  • Special Powers; Armor 12L/12B, Limbs inflict 12L damage and may attack four times per turn without penalty, near undetectable when lurking in ambush in an appropriate environment (6 automatic successes on stealth), +6 to movement speed, being totally fearless, and Screeching Limbs (they make so much noise when moving that it’s D5 to hear anything else in the vicinity).
  • Lurkers are animated heaps of blasted and twisted steel. Being too noisy when moving to hunt effectively, they usually simply set up housekeeping in the vicinity of something valuable and wait for prey to come to them.

Mojave Rattler (Cthonians, Grabboids, Etc)

Physical

Str

5

 

Dex

3

 

Sta

15

Social

Chr

3

 

Man

2

 

App

1

Mental

Per

4

 

Int

4

 

Wit

2

  • Willpower 4, regain one per day
  • Abilities: Brawl 2, Stealth 1 (When underground),
  • Specialities: Intimidation 1
  • Health Levels: 6x -0, 6x -1, 6x -2, Incapacitated. 19B and 4L Soak. Normally retreats if it takes more than 6 wounds.
  • Special Powers; Armor 4L/4B, Bite for 6L once a target is dragged into its mouth (this takes 10 net successes on opposed strength checks), vibration sense, burrow at a fast running pace.
  • These tentacled worms normally pop up and try to pull a target into their maws with their tentacles. If the target and his or her friends do enough damage to make the tentacles useless it lets go and burrows away. While their main bodies have Str 15, they can only really apply that to large, stationary, objects.

Night Terror (Gargoyle, NightGuant, Etc)

Physical

Str

2

 

Dex

3

 

Sta

2

Social

Chr

3

 

Man

2

 

App

1

Mental

Per

4

 

Int

4

 

Wit

4

  • Willpower 6, regain 1 per victim dropped from a height.
  • Abilities: Awareness 2, Athletics 1, Brawl 2, Stealth 2
  • Specialities: Flight 2, Intimidation 2
  • Health Levels: 2 each -0, -1, -2 & -4, Incapacitated. 4B and 2L Soak.
  • Special Powers; Armor 2L and 2B, +2L Claws, Flight, Stunning Cry (affects a 10-yard radius, D3 Sta+Res check to resist, may be made again each round to recover. This is normally used as a part of an ambush. Fortunately, they are NOT immune to the cries of other Night Terrors, or they could kill any group).
  • Night Terrors are basically gargoyles, and prefer to attack planes, people on top of skyscrapers, and small groups they can stun before picking up and dropping them.

Rad Rats

   Rad Rats don’t really need statistics. They swarm over a victim, inflict a few scratches, and fall back to see if the victim goes down from supernatural radiation sickness. If a victim fails a D2 (Sta+Res) check, they will start losing one health level every (Sta) rounds and only supernatural healing will help. Area-effect attacks may throw back the rush; each individual rat is pretty fragile.

Shrak

Physical

Str

6

 

Dex

1

 

Sta

4

Social

Chr

4

 

Man

2

 

App

0

Mental

Per

4

 

Int

1

 

Wit

4

  • Willpower 4. Regains 1/Day
  • Abilities: Athletics 2, Dodge 2, Brawl 2, Sneak 2
  • Specialities: Swim 3, Intimidate 3, Track 3
  • Health Levels: 2 each -0, -1, -2 & -4, Incapacitated. 8B and 4L Soak.
  • Special Powers; 4B/4L Armor (tough skin), bite does 9L damage. Can climb hard, smooth, surfaces.
  • OK, it’s humanoid landshark time. They’re big, they bite people, and they usually work for Croakers. We’re done here.

Toxic Zombies

   See Walking Dead

Trog (Mutant, Degenerate, Cave-Man)

Physical

Str

4

 

Dex

2

 

Sta

5

Social

Chr

3

 

Man

2

 

App

1

Mental

Per

2

 

Int

1

 

Wit

2

  • Willpower 4, regains 1/day
  • Abilities: Athletics 1, Brawl 2, Dodge 2, Survival 3, and Throw 2
  • Specialities: Intimidation 3
  • Health Levels: -0, 3x -1, 3x -2, -4, Incapacitated.
  • Special Powers; Immunity to radiation and +3 successes versus Radiation Magic. Usually carry clubs and rocks.
  • Trogs are those poor people who are about as mutated as they can get – and didn’t get any good ones. They’re generally seen as expendable and can’t even reproduce.

Walkin’ Dead (Zombie, Skeleton, Etc)

Physical

Str

4

 

Dex

3

 

Sta

3

Social

Chr

2

 

Man

1

 

App

1

Mental

Per

4

 

Int

2

 

Wit

4

  • Willpower 4, regain one per brain eaten
  • Abilities: Awareness 1, Athletics 1, Brawl 2, Dodge 1, Firearms 2, Stealth 1, Thrown 2. May have other skills if the body is relatively fresh.
  • Specialities: Intimidate 2
  • Health Levels: 2 each -0, -1, and -2, Incapacitated. 4B and 2L Soak plus any armor they’ve obtained.
  • Special Powers; Undead. Skeletal ones are 50% immune to piercing weapons. All of them can bite and claw for lethal damage. Those which died of acid, electricity, toxins, diseases, etc, may use that hazard as a ranged attack (typically 5L damage or D1 to avoid infection) and add +2L or infection in HTH. Others use weapons if they can get them.
  • Walkin’ Dead include a wide variety of animated corpses. In general, they’re fairly easy to wipe out on an individual basis. The problem is that they come in large numbers.

Wendigo

Physical

Str

8

 

Dex

2

 

Sta

5

Social

Chr

5

 

Man

3

 

App

2

Mental

Per

5

 

Int

3

 

Wit

3

  • Willpower 5, regain one per victim eaten
  • Abilities: Awareness 2, Athletics 2, Brawl 3, Stealth 1, Survival 3,
  • Specialities: Local Area Knowledge 3, Intimidate 3
  • Health Levels: 3 each -0, -1, and -2, Incapacitated. 10B/5L Soak
  • Special Powers; Armor (5B/3L), Claw/Bite for 10L, Night Vision, +6′ movement, and Immunity to Cold. Rare variants may be able to shapeshift to look normal, be stronger (Str 10), have +2B/2L armor, have Wings (-2 to Str and Sta), or regenerate when they eat people.
  • Wendigo occasionally result when someone resorts to cannibalism. They’re bloodstained apelike creatures with massive talons and fangs and live to feast on more human flesh. Characters who destroy Wendigos gain a portion of one of it’s special powers.
  • Wendigo which eat close friends or relatives gain +1 Str, +1 Wits, +2 Stamina, and 2L/2B Soak. Characters who count Coup on such a creature can spend 1 point of willpower to regain 1 health level.

Werewolf

Physical

Str

5

 

Dex

3

 

Sta

4

Social

Chr

4

 

Man

2

 

App

2

Mental

Per

5

 

Int

2

 

Wit

7

  • Willpower 3
  • Abilities: Brawl 4, Dodge 2
  • Specialities: Intimidate 2
  • Health Levels: 2x -0, 4x -1, 4x -2, 2x -4, and Incapacitated. 4B and 2L Soak.
  • Special Powers; Bite and Claws do Str+2L damage, Infection (anyone bitten by a werewolf must make a D3 [Sta=Res] check or become a werewolf in 1d6 days. Especially evil werewolves may manage to retain their mental abilities and skills as wolfmen. (Dualists can do so as well since they have a second functioning brain).
  • Greater werewolves get +2 to their physical abilities, always retain their mental abilities, often possess other magical powers, and may command lesser werewolves. They’re extremely rare.
  • Do any of us really need an explanation of what a werewolf is?

Wormling

Physical

Str

4

 

Dex

3

 

Sta

3

Social

Chr

1

 

Man

3

 

App

1

Mental

Per

2

 

Int

2

 

Wit

3

  • Willpower 5
  • Abilities: Awareness 2, Brawl 3, Dodge 2, Engineering 2, Stealth 4, Survival 3
  • Specialities: Spitting 2
  • Health Levels: 2 each -0, -1, -2 & -4, Incapacitated. 4B and 2L Soak.
  • Special Powers; Immune to Corrosives, Spit Acid (6L, can be used to tunnel through rock or weaken buildings), Burrow thru soil at half walking speed, Claws do 10L damage.
  • These wormlike humanoids are intelligent pack-hunters who like to set traps using their ability to burrow or weaken structures. They normally hunt in groups of 6-10 and should be considered extremely dangerous.

Converting Deadlands to Exalted

   While we were playing the Dualistic Exalted Campaign, we happened to spend some time in the Deadlands Wasted West setting. Naturally enough, that meant that we needed some way to convert characters – so here we are: a set of rules for converting Deadlands characters to Exalted rules.

Deadlands Character Conversions

  • Nature : Selected to suit the character
  • Virtues : Normally Conviction or Valor 3, others at 2. Willpower starts at 5

Attributes

Converts From

 

at

=

Strength

Strength

 

d4

1

Dexterity

Deftness

 

d6

2

Stamina

Vigor

 

d8

3

Charisma

Mein

 

d10

4

Manipulation

Spirit

 

d12

5

Appearance

(Assign)

 

Each +2

+1

Perception

Cognition

     

Intelligence

Smarts

     

Wits

Quickness

     
  • Nimbleness and Knowledge are not used.
  • Using the normal card-draw system this gives an average of 25 attribute points versus 22 for normal Heroic Mortals. However Deadlands characters don’t get any free backgrounds.
  • Add (Guts + Grit)/3 to Willpower
  • Essence defaults to 1. It may be increased to 2 for characters with Grit 4+.

   Aptitudes convert to Abilities as follows. Divide the highest score among those listed by two to convert:

Academia, Science

Academics

Animal Wrangling, Riding, Teamster

Ride/Animal Handler

Artillery, Quick Draw, Shooting, Speed Load

Firearms

Arts, Trade, Tinkering

Craft

Climbing, Swimming

Athletics

Bluff, Disguise, Performing, Persuasion, Ridicule, and Tale-Telling

Performance

Demolitions

Engineering

Dodge

Dodge

Driving

Drive

Fighting

Brawl or Melee

Filching, Gambling, Lockpicking, Slight Of Hand, and Streetwise

Larceny

Language

Linguistics

Leadership, Overawe

Presence

Medicine

Medicine

Professional

Bureaucracy or Computer

Scrutinize

Awareness or Investigation

Sneak

Stealth

Throwing

Thrown

Tracking, Scrounging, and Survival

Survival

Finishing Touches:

   Any character with Faith knows a minor protection ritual. More advanced Arcane Backgrounds allow the use of a particular field of Deadlands Magic, below. Each individual spell, miracle, or other effect known counts as a separate ritual. Two backgrounds – Psyker and Doomsayer – include an active essence pool. Sadly, as a rule, Deadlands characters can only have one magical affinity, and use it as a base for their effect die pools. Deadlands rituals are inherently Quick.

Creating Heroic Deadlands Characters:

  • Gain access to the Academics, Computer, Drive, Engineering, and Firearms skills. May not take the Artifact, Familiar, Knowledge, or Manse backgrounds, or the Lore or Occult skills. May take the Experience background at a maximum level of 2 if, and only if, the character background justifies it. Get 18 bonus points.
  • Nature: Chosen normally. Not usually stressed much.
  • Attributes: All have a base of 1, 6/4/3 points to spend. No more that one at 5 – and a cap of 4 is recommended. +1 per 4 bonus points spent.
  • Abilities: 22 points. No more that one at 5, but no other restrictions. +1 per 2 bonus points spent, +1 speciality per bonus point spent or +2 per ability point spent.
  • Virtues: All have a base of 1, 5 Points to spend, may not go above 3 without spending bonus points at +1 per 3. Virtues will not be stressed; deadlanders may opt to ignore them and default to a base will of 5.
  • Willpower: Defaults to sum of two highest virtues or 5 if virtues are ignored, +1 per 2 bonus points.
  • Backgrounds: 0 Points, +1 per bonus point, 5 Max.
  • Flaws: Maximum of -10 points, GM approval required. Gain +1 bonus point per -1 point of flaws taken.
  • Merits: +1 per bonus point spent. Rituals cost cost 2 points each. No maximum.
  • Essence: 1. 2 for +10 bonus points, 3 for +25. Mortal characters do not get an essence pool unless they take relevant merits.

Conversion Notes

  • Aptitudes in Deadlands correspond to Abilities, and superficially have the same 1-5 range. However, since Deadlands characters can raise aptitudes without limit and hit “professional” at 4 instead of 2, the level of a deadland aptitude is divided by two when converting it to Exalted Abilities. More importantly, Abilities are a lot broader than Aptitudes. If more than one is listed for conversion use only the highest.
  • Edges and Hindrances translate directly into Merits and Flaws. The two systems even have the same 10 point limit on Hindrances/Flaws.

Deadlands Magic

   In theory, magic is pretty straightforward; you take some essence motes, you shape them, and you turn loose your effect.

   Of course, there are practical complications.

   You can get power from your own willpower or mote reserves (an essence pool or “strain”), from nonsentient sources (ghost rock, radiation, mystical artifacts, ley lines, etc), or from spirits. Personal motes and those from spirits are generic. Forces can only be used to power effects appropriate to the force in question.

   Characters with Essence Pools work normally. Whether you call it motes or strain, those mortals who have spent years learning to channel essence usually recover a mote an hour. Channeling external energies requires an affinity (“arcane background”) and a willpower check. A success powers your spell. On a botch, the energies run wild through your body.

   Ghost Rock can fuel almost any effect, but a botch incinerates you and traps your spirit in a new chunk of Ghost Rock. Simple failures result in a bout of Ghost Rock Fever if you fail a (Resistance + Stamina) roll. Ghost Rock provides 6 motes of essence.

   Radiation is used to blast and transmute things. Botching results in a mutation. Radiation provides 0 motes in clean lands, 3 motes in most of the wasted west, and 6 in major radioactive areas – although those present their own dangers.

   Hexcraft forces a spirit to give you power through a contest of wills. If you win you get power. If you lose by three or more or botch, the spirit gets to do what it wants – and even benign spirits don’t react well to being forced. Minor/Major/Grand spirits (Wills of 2-5, 5-8, and 9-10) provide 3/6/9 motes. For random backlash roll a die: 1 Drain 1d6 XP, 2-3 take 4d bashing damage, 4 take 4d lethal damage, 5 knocked unconscious, 6 drain all your essence motes or temporary will if no motes, 7 you go mad for a week or two or are briefly possessed, 8-9 the spirit twists your spell according to its whims, 10 the spirit uses some power of its own or sends something after you. Hexcrafting can be used in Creation, but the place is so spirit-dominated that it’s pretty much suicidal.

   Blessings are granted by willing spirits on the same scale as Hexcraft. Spirits of Light include nature spirits (minor, and hard to find in the Wasted West), powerful totems (major) and even gods (grand). Sadly, they want favors-in-advance, although Major and Grand spirits do count worship and general good deeds for their faithful, and only help relevant effects. Still, nothing goes wrong – and you don’t expend your favor – if you botch. Spirits of Darkness will work with those who serve their evil purposes, but can’t restrain their malevolence. They don’t make an opposed roll, but will inflict (vicious!) backlash if you botch. They also don’t like letting others use their power (reduce their effective level by 1).

   Harrowed Powers are basically just spirit charms. The Harrowed have access to the full essence pool and recovery rate of the spirit in them however. They may have one of their own as well.

   Mystical Artifacts, Ley Lines, Nodes, and Times can have essence pools and recoveries of their own. These can usually be tapped by anyone who happens to have access to them, but are extremely rare. A botch usually results in a level of damage and in your spell going out of control.

Special modifiers include

  • Interventions are the direct acts of Grand spirits – parting small seas, raising armies of the dead, etcetera. Mortals may be able to ask for such a thing if they have a link with a spirit and have a major favor coming. Don’t count on it.
  • Mad Science Gadgets embody a very specific spell effect and absorb any resulting Ghost Rock backlash. Sadly, they malfunction (d10: 1-7 Minor, 8-9 Major, 10 Catastrophic) if the user fails the will roll to activate them and always blow up on a botch. The design is the hard part; it takes a passable theory and an extended engineering roll (at a difficulty set by the GM according to absurdity) with 12 total successes. A botch along the way results in gadget backlash, as shown below.
    • For random gadget backlash roll a die and become: 1 Absent Minded, 2 Deluded, 3 Paranoid, 4 Phobic, 5 Schizoid or 6 Possessive. If you roll higher the device 7 is possessed, 8 brings Bad Luck, 9 draws sprits, or 10 gets a +3 on the roll when it malfunctions.
    • Thaumotech Devices are advanced Mad Science Devices that don’t need activation rolls and therefore never malfunction or burn out. On the other hand, you have to know the effect used (learning it as a ritual with a chance of mental backlash) and must roll willpower and suffer gadget backlash both when creating the initial design and when building one.
    • Alchemical Elixirs are simply chemically-based Mad Science Gadgets. They malfunction a lot less drastically, but you can only make one dose at a time.

Shaping the effect

   Since Deadlanders don’t have access to the general Occult ability or to the Thaumaturgic Sciences they must buy each effect as a separate ritual. Most cost 1-3 motes or one willpower to use and are only available to those with a particular affinity (for example, psykers get telekinetic and telepathic effects while priests get wards and power against magical evils). Each extra mote from an external source grants an extra success. Characters may combine one sentient and one nonsentient source; this produces the most powerful results, but subjects the user to the dangers of each source used. Effects are simply built using the general thaumaturgy system.

   Classically Mad Scientists use Ghost Rock, Psykers use Essence Pools, Doomsayers use Essence Pools and Radiation, Hucksters use Hexcraft, and Black Magi, Shamans, Templars, and the Blessed use Blessings.

The Dimensional Auditors

   The Dualistic Exalted characters never encountered the Dimensional Auditors directly – and speculated about just what they were up to (attempting to stabilize the various dimensions, preventing dimensional travel, attempting to monopolize dimensional travel, involved in some cosmic war, etc, etc, etc) – but the results were fairly obvious: get mildly disruptive and you could expect a few minor Auditorial Constructs to start poking around and trying to patch things up. Cause major disturbances and gross disruptions of the local reality, and you could expect a killer swarm to try to exterminate you and cover up the disruptions you were causing.

   As constructs, these “creatures” have no willpower, and no social attributes. Built-in ranged weapons use the “Thrown” skill. Auditorial Constructs are designed to have the minimum possible impact on entering a dimension; they’re basically just a pattern imprinted on some local atmosphere and a bit of transmutation catalyst to provide power. There are five basic types of Auditorial Constructs:

 

Tetrahedrons

Physical

Str

1

 

Dex

3

 

Sta

3

Mental

Per

2

 

Int

1

 

Wit

2

  • Abilities: Athletics 1, Awareness 1, Stealth 1, and Thrown 1.
  • Health Levels: 4x -0, Disrupted. 5B/2L Soak
  • Special Powers; Armor-2, Ion Blast (6B, may fire a maximum of twice per turn using “Thrown”),
  • Tetrahedrons, scuttling on their lower corners, are the most fragile, foolish, and lowest-powered of all the Auditor’s constructs. They’re also by far the easiest to spawn, so they still see plenty of use.

Cubes

Physical

Str

3

 

Dex

3

 

Sta

3

Mental

Per

2

 

Int

2

 

Wit

2

  • Abilities: Athletics 2, Awareness 2, Climb 2, Stealth 2, and Thrown 2.
  • Health Levels: 6x -0, Disrupted. 6B/3L Soak.
  • Special Powers; Armor-3, Ion Blast (6L), Paralysis Ray (D4 Sta + End, lose one action per point by which it’s missed), Plasma Blast (4L area of effect flame attack).
  • Cubes, leaping from point to point on blasts of air, are probably the most common auditorial construct. They’re quite effective against normals, and are pretty good against more powerful opponents if the area isn’t too open to let them work together.

Octahedrons

Physical

Str

3

 

Dex

4

 

Sta

4

Mental

Per

2

 

Int

2

 

Wit

3

  • Abilities: Athletics 3, Awareness 3, Dodge 3, Engineering 3, Stealth 3, and Thrown 3.
  • Health Levels: 8x -0, Disrupted. 8B/5L Soak.
  • Special Powers; Armor-4, Force Field Generation (may create barriers equivalent to wood for 2 health levels, fire force-bolts or blades for 8B or 8L, and manipulate objects at short range even without hands), slow levitation or rapid movement on force-legs.
  • The quick and adaptable Octahedrons are sent in if something needs to be blocked off or when swift maneuvering is vital. They’re most commonly deployed as a group of four, but two full groups of four may be used on urgent missions.

Dodecahedrons

Physical

Str

5

 

Dex

5

 

Sta

5

Mental

Per

3

 

Int

3

 

Wit

3

  • Abilities: Athletics 4, Awareness 4, Dodge 4, Larceny 4, Melee 4, Presence 4, and Stealth 4.
  • Health Levels: 12x -0, Disrupted. 11B/6L Soak
  • Special Powers; Armor-6, Strikes for 12L at ranges of up to ten feet, immune to light-based effects, sees in full spectral range, gains a +3 bonus on stealth checks in dim light or water.
  • These deadly crystal constructs strike by extruding crystal blades and move about by extending long spikes and then “flowing” along them. Fortunately they require so much power to spawn that they’re pretty rare. More that two or three at a time is almost unheard-of.

Icosahedrons

Physical

Str

4

 

Dex

5

 

Sta

4

Mental

Per

8

 

Int

7

 

Wit

8

  • Abilities: Athletics 5, Awareness 5, Bureaucracy 5, Craft 5, Occult 5, Presence 5, Stealth 5, and Thrown 5.
  • Health Levels: 20x -0, Disrupted. 14B/10L Soak
  • Special Powers; Armor-10, 21-Point Essence Pool, may extend fractal energy tendrils to manipulate small objects, Dimensional Cannon (20B damage to target or 15B to an area, but takes 3 rounds to charge), Flight.
  • The deadly d20’s possess considerable offensive and defensive power, but their true might lies in their ability to evaluate situations, manipulate energies, and command other forces. Fortunately for everyone, they require an immense amount if power to spawn. Even the most apocalyptic missions rarely justify the use of two Icosahedrons. Note that they normally use the Advanced Thaumaturgy rules in conjunction with their essence pool and occult skill, and thus can produce a wide variety of relatively weak effects.

   OK, now you can use all those other dice for something while playing a White Wolf Storyteller System game: they make perfect markers for the enemy – and, since they all have the same number of health levels as sides, you can simply use the numbers on them to track their remaining health levels.

Advanced Metamagic: Thaumaturgy

   For today, it’s the next section on the advanced metamagic magic rules for Shadowrun – in this case for Thaumaturgy, the magical skill of channeling the powers of normal and free spirits. As living links between the material world and astral space, Thaumaturgists have some unique talents available to them.

   Astral Fold allows the user to create a pocket of astral space which exists only in relationship to him- or her-self and can be used to store physical objects. Such a “pocket” does not encumber the user, can store up to (Magic Rating) kilograms, is only accessible to the user, and can be accessed as a complex action. Upgrades include hiding the existence of the pocket from astral observers, increasing it’s capacity (multiply by 1+[the number of times this option is taken), allowing the pocket to be accessed as a (1) simple action or (2) a free action, allowing the user to make worn articles – clothing, armor, or restraints – appear and disappear, allowing the user to store liquids and gases and keep them separate, allowing the user to shunt bullets (not an easy check) or injected toxins and similar contaminants (automatic) into storage, to keep stored items in time stasis, and allowing the user to cause stored doses of compounds and drugs to reappear within his or her own body.

   Arsenal allows the user to store spells, partially bypassing the basic “so-many-times-within-this-time-period” limitations of basic thaumaturgy. Unfortunately, due to the amount of sheer, raw, power which backs up most thaumaturgic spells, each level of Arsenal will only allow the user to store one major or two minor spells. Almost as importantly, the power-aura of such a concentration of magic is virtually unconcealable; each level of the Arsenal metamagic that a character is currently using effectively cancels out one level of Masking – at least as far as attempting to appear as anything but a major magical entity goes.

   Devotion allows a thaumaturgist to draw power from abstract concepts, albeit only from major philosophical and religious views or from universal ideals. Unlike actual spirits, drawing power from such forces does not require karma: instead it requires actual dedication to the ideal or philosophy – usually demonstrated by appropriate actions. Adhering to such requirements will allow the user to draw on a package of effects associated with the ideal in question. Each time Devotion is taken, it applies to a different concept, ideal, or viewpoint.

   Drawing Down the Moon allows the user to build up a temporary spell structure and then pour raw power from his or her patrons through it. Unfortunately, the effects of such constructs are limited by the magical skills used to create them, by the fact that such jury-rigged constructs tend to leak random magic in all directions when subjected to such an overload, by a drastic reduction in the effective force due to such power leakage, and by what energies the user’s patrons make available. The user may keep one temporary construct ready per level of Drawing Down the Moon. Other upgrades can reduce the side effects, reduce the time required to create a temporary construct, or provide bonus dice on the necessary skill rolls. In general, creating a temporary structure calls for a specific knowledge in a particular field of magic.

   Extension allows the user to spread the effects of his or her granted spells over a much wider area and/or a greater time. Thus, for example, the user could change a mighty fireball into a citywide heatwave (unpleasant, but not damaging), or a rain of sparks that confuses thermographic vision, use it to ignite small fires in a wide radius, or set something on fire for a considerable length of time. Additional improvements can provide finer control, allow the user to combine multiple spells into an effect, or allow effects to be built up over ever-greater stretches of time (potentially incorporating large numbers of spells into a single effect).

    Warding Aura infuses whatever the user wears with arcane energy, in an ever-increasing progression. The first level protects your clothing and equipment, rendering it more resistant to destructive forces (thus allowing, for example, the old “indestructible pants” effect). More importantly, the first level protects the user against armor-piercing or armor-ignoring effects; laser, antivehicle, shock, and similar effects do not half the user’s armor and astral attacks do not ignore it (although it still doesn’t work against physicla combat spells). Upgrades include the ability to infuse (1) melee and then (2) ranged weapons with magical energy as well, to cause damaged items to function normally, to enhance the functions of various items (providing a pool of enhancement dice to draw upon), to enhance armor even further, to allow the user to manipulate the environment immediately about himself or herself, or to pass through the earth more readily (by controlling it and moving it out of the way).

Advanced Thaumaturgy Abilities:

   Accumulation enhances the link between a thaumaturgist and his or her patrons, allowing them to draw on his or her experiences to gain tiny amounts of karma (trivial to a mortal but – over time – well worthwhile to a free spirit) and gather information, as well as to influence events about their clients. In return, the user can refresh his or her allotment of spells somewhat more quickly. Upgrades apply to particular spirits, and allow the user to build up pools of bonus spells by doing specific favors for that spirit.

   Bestowal is essentially the magical version of skillwires, allowing the user to draw on the skills associated with a particular spirit. Unfortunately, this is limited to particular patron spirits and to relatively low skill levels. Additional upgrades can be used to add additional spirts and their associated sets of skills or to upgrade the level of skills which can be accessed form a particular spirit. Perhaps sadly, it is easier to access knowledge skills than it is to access active skills with this ability. On the other hand, powerful spirits often have access to information which can be found nowhere else.

   Channeling allows the user to unleash his or her spells through another character to whom he has an astral link. Unfortunately, this tends to disrupt such links, at least temporarily and – for passive links, such as DNA samples – often permanently. Upgrades can allow the user to release additional spells before the link breaks, to release spells through links without the cooperation of the individual on the other end,

   Compact is simply a permanent link with a very powerful spirit which grants a permanent spell effect. This may be taken repeatedly to obtain additional spell effects, but works best with protective or relatively passive effects: direct enhancements tend to overstress the user’s body unless he or she is careful not to push his or her limits – which prevents even the most powerful compacter from competing with physical adepts and aces on their own terms.

   Consecration allows the user to link items with spirits, although this normally requires the consent of the spirit involved and a fair amount of karma. Upgrades here include reducing the karma cost, allowing the user to attempt to force links upon unwilling spirits, tapping into the power of spirits which you have found a link to, linking with greater and more powerful spirits, and using such items to (1) communicate with and (2) attempt to summon the spirits such items are linked to.

   Countermagic simply allows the user to ground out incoming magic. Upgrades include the ability to ground out existing spells, to affect an additional target at the same time, to drain background counts, to create low-magic areas, to injure dual-natured creatures by draining their magic, to drain spirits, to attempt to remove quickened of otherwise permanent magics, and to temporarily return awakened creatures to their base states.

   Guardian allows the user to anchor spirits serving a particular patron to the material plane – and normally means that such a patron will assign a spirit or two to take advantage of that ability. In compensation to the user, such spirits will also do him or her an occasional favor. This may be taken repeatedly, to allow the user to serve as a spirit anchor for an ever-larger collection of spirits, but caution is in order: having too many spirits using you as a contact point is a wonderful way to get in ever-increasing amounts of trouble.

   Guidance is actually extremely simple: one of your spiritual patrons occasionally offers you hints and clues – as well as occasionally tweaking events (an effect roughly equivalent to spending a karma point or two) to steer things in the direction they want them to go. You can, of course, align yourself with more than one patron; all you need to do is take Guidance again.

   Miraculum is fairly straightforward: you can sense what powers your patrons have available, and offer them small amounts of Karma for a single use of whatever power you happen to find convenient at the moment. That isn’t strictly a “miracle”, bit getting just the power you need at a moments notice can be extremely convenient. Further upgrades can (1) allow the user to determine what other pacts his current patrons might be open to without having to research them, (2) determine what pacts a potential patron might make available, and even (3) allow the user to determine what patrons can be reached at particular times and locations.

   Prophecy allows the user to sense metaplanar events and disturbances, providing clues as to future events, to upcoming mana disturbances, and to the activities of major spirits and powers. Further upgrades can provide greater range and accuracy, allow the user to analyze spirits on the fly, to monitor the activities of particular groups of major spirits, or to more readily research metamagical techniques.

   Resistances provide the user with minor innate powers – such as the ability to ignite flammable objects by touch – or immunity to highly-specific effects, such as particular spells, or “building fires”, or any of a wide variety of other minor abilities. A character can acquire as many resistances or minor powers as he or she cares to pay for. Unlike the Compact metamagic, however, the user may turn these powers on and off.

   Spellweaving allows the user to channel aspected background count as if it was a spirit, producing effects appropriate to the aspect. For example, a “sacred place of purity” could be tapped into to purge a poison, to cast out an intruding spirit, or to cure an addiction. Upgrades can be used to set up links to particular places to allow limited use of their powers elsewhere, to upgrade the user’s fine control of the effects he or she produces, or to tap into geomantic effects from afar.

The Renraku Arcology

   Given that the characters are now getting involved with the Renraku Arcology, here’s a little basic information on it – mostly from publicly-released sources. Please note that this bears very little resemblance to the version described in the later-edition sourcebooks, since that version was largely impractical. This version isn’t guaranteed to be practical either, but I suspect that it comes considerably closer.

   The primary arcology building – exclusive of the 100-foot buffer zone and it’s outbuildings, lawn, statuary, outer-fringe barriers, and access corridors – has a footprint of 1.2 square miles. The arcology itself has 8 subfloors, 32 full-size aboveground floors, and 8 partial floors above that. The 8 subfloors and 32 aboveground floors have roughly one square mile of usable space each after walls, elevator shafts, service areas, and similar necessities are accounted for. In general, the floors average about 18 feet: industrial and split-level floors tend to be higher than average, single-level office and storage floors tend to be shorter.

   The residential floors offer a (very generous) 450 square feet per person – albeit with a split-level design (this internal floor division is not counted when considering the overall number of floors, since it only increases the actual available size by just over 60%) and a fair portion of that space devoted to common areas (micro-parks, clubs and bars, childcare centers, and so on). Each of the primary residential floors is designed to handle a population of up to 100,000 (although 80,000 is closer to ideal), with a selection of reconfigurable family, dual occupancy, and single-person apartments and service areas.

   The main roof is surrounded by an six-floor rise approximately 250 feet thick on all sides, housing executive apartments, communications systems, and similar items. The rooftop of this area includes the satellite communications systems, landing pads, and so on. The central roof is devoted to a roofed park and greenhouse area. It is normally reserved for the use of the residents.

   Internal transportation systems include corridors, stairs, moving walkways, escalators, elevators, and an internal monorail system used for heavy transport and large-volume transportation.

   The defense systems are quite extensive, starting with heavily-reinforced structures, armored glass, and external walls more formidable than most main battle tanks. Internal surveillance is potentially extensive, but – in practice – has many blind spots, if only because there aren’t enough security personal to properly monitor even a fraction of the instruments. Active defenses are generally classified.

The Floors:

  • -8: Aquaculture, water reserves and recycling, Backup Fusion Plant
  • -7: Forced-Growth Hydroponics
  • -6: Classical Hydroponics
  • -5: Large-Scale Processing
  • -4: Industrial, Primary Production, Materials Recycling and Refining
  • -3: Storage. Also special-needs security confinement areas.
  • -2: Building Support, service tunnels, subway transport access.
  • -1: Mall, Bus Station, Monorail Station, Parking Garage, Vehicle Shops, Major Entertainment Areas (Zoo, swimming pools, circus, etc).
  • 01: Mall, Major Entertainment Areas.
  • 02: Primary Security, clinics, professional services
  • 03: Secondary Hydroponics, Forced-Growth Atmosphere Recycling
  • 04: Industrial, Secondary Processing
  • 05: Mechanized “Farming”.
  • 06: Residential
  • 07: Internal Recreational Complexes.
  • 08: Primary fusion plants. High-energy research
  • 09: Food Processing
  • 10: Storage
  • 11: Industrial, Tertiary Processing, Assembley, Development, Microtronics.
  • 12: Residential
  • 13: University, Training and Research Centers, Hospitalization, Cyberware Research.
  • 14: Services
  • 15: Industrial, Reprocessing.
  • 16: Internal Park
  • 17: Security Operations
  • 18: Residential
  • 19: Storage
  • 20: Offices, Industrial Design and Research, Middle Management
  • 21: Security Command,
  • 22: Support Services
  • 23: Entertainment Production, Software and Simense Labs
  • 24: Residential
  • 25: Clean Room Assembly, Computer Manufacturing, Labs,
  • 26: Storage
  • 27: Secondary Hydroponics, Forced-Growth Atmosphere Recycling
  • 28: Magical Research, Paranormal Zoology
  • 29: Spas, executive facilities.
  • 30: Residential
  • 31: Robotics Manufacturing and Maintenance.
  • 32: Park support systems, Bioresearch.
  • Primary Roof: Main Park, Sports, Carnival.
  • Riser Floors: Upper Management, Executive Apartments, Air Traffic Control, Aircraft and Drone Hangers and Shops.

   Note that the floor purposes and descriptions are extremely general; there are numerous other facilities on each floor.

Shadowrun: New Sorcery Metamagic

   For our party sorcerers, here we have some new Metamagic to try to get.

   Combining allows the user to ignore the drain and casting target number penalties for casting two spells at the same time. Upgrade include allowing additional spells to be cast at the same time without penalty (at one per upgrade), allowing dice drawn from the user’s magic pool to apply to each spell cast rather than to only one of them, or to treat any spells cast simultaneously as a single spell for sustaining purposes.

   Defiling allows the user to compensate for drain by displacing the damage to other living things in a radius of (Magic Rating) meters. The basic version can only handle stun damage and can only transfer it to unresisting targets (such as plants and fungi), but – like any other method of drain-transference – upgrades it to physical damage. The effectiveness depends on how much plant life there is in the area to destroy. Upgrades allow the user to (1) transfer physical drain to the area, destroying not only lower life forms but the areas ability to support them, (2) to affect resisting targets (such as animals and people if they fail to resist), inflicting physical damage if compensating for stun drain and essence damage if compensating for physical drain, (3) to extend the drain across greater areas, and (4) to increase the effect of his or her spells by channeling extra energy into them. Other options include the ability to delay the effects of the drain for long enough to escape the area, to control it so that the organisms and area affected are only damaged and not destroyed, and the ability to reverse the trick, channeling the user’s own energies into the creatures and land to restore them.

   Faceting allows a spell which affects multiple targets – such as an area-effect enhancement spell – to be broken up into individual subspells affecting each individual target. This causes drain as if casting the initial spell, requires a successful Sorcery check against the force of the spell and, regrettably, costs Karma equal to the force of the spell. Quickened or otherwise sustained spells remain so, which may cause notable penalties for anyone who is actively sustaining them. Upgrades can reduce the karma cost or allow a caster to increase the number of targets affected by a single spell.

   Magery simply increases the user’s magic pool and astral combat pool by one die. It may be taken repeatedly.

   Power Word (X) allows the user to cast a chosen spell as a simple action. Unfortunately, this increases the drain level by one (spells which already have a “D” damage code cannot be used as Power Words) and prevents the user from using his or her magic pool with the casting – or to resist drain. Upgrades include (1) allowing the user to employ up to (Sorcery/2) dice from his or her magic pool in conjunction with such a spell, (2) reducing such a spell to a free action, (3) allowing the spell to be used as a defensive reflex – such as to protect the user from an incoming attack, and (4) allowing the full magic pool to be used with such a spell. Unfortunately, such upgrades also only apply to a single spell; if you want two power words, you’ll need to start the entire sequence all over again.

   Spellcraft allows the user to more readily modify spells. The user may translate spell formulas between traditions or upgrade their force in one-fourth the usual time and may apply an extra two points of limitations when learning spells. Upgrades include the ability to apply up to four points of limitations to particular aspects of a spell, the ability to apply up to eight points of limitations to a spell, and the ability to halve the target number increase in spell research for making spells easier to learn.

   Spellforging allows the user to learn spells more quickly and to upgrade learned spells – or to discard them and regain the karma spent on them – rather than relearning them. Upgrades include the ability to design spells more quickly (since you can build and test portions of them readily), to design spells without reference works, to reduce the karma cost of buying spells in the first place, to create spell formula foci, to “learn” single-shot spells without expending karma, or boost the effective force ratings of a limited set of the users learned spells.

   Timebinding allows the user to spread the drain and effort of spellcasting over lengthy periods (normally one day per box of drain the spell usually inflicts), allowing him or her to give spells forces up into the twenties, regardless of the force at which they can normally be cast. Additional upgrades can provide access to an array of instinctive force-0 spells, allow the user to upgrade the drain level of a spell to cast it directly at a greater-than-normally-available force, or allow a spell to be cast over many days so as to affect a much larger than usual area (an effect also known as “Epic Magic”).

   Timebinding was a major element in the first edition campaign back in 1989, where the it played a role in the instinctive magic of infants – allowing them to slowly create a very high-powered astral bond with their caretakers. It was why infants slept so much – but, as they grew, they gradually lost the unquestioning acceptance of the magic of the world which allowed them to bypass the need for training and initiation in certain fields. It took a great deal of work for older mages to recapture that sense of naive wonder, and to see the world once again unrestrained by space and time – but it was the gateway to the higher mysteries. The easiest way to get a clue as to how it worked was to be skilled enough and attentive enough to observe an infant’s attempts to bond with you – which also neatly set the path you were likely to take. If you choose to accept the bond and the responsibility of caring for the child, that opened one set of paths, rejecting the bond offered another – and twisting it so as to use the child as a magical battery and tool opened a third (and much darker) set of options. The paths were entangled in the reasons for the great cycle of magic, the existence of shapeshifters, the pre-human races, the time wars, and many other elements of the world. Unfortunately, later sourcebooks and editions established things which didn’t fit those paths. I may see if I can rummage out the old notes and adapt the paths for current editions later on.

Advanced Sorcery Metamagic Abilities:

   Absorption can be upgraded to allow the user to drain power from spirits, from foci, or even from ongoing spell effects, to hold power for later use, to allow the user to feed raw power into other existing effects, to let the user simply radiate it, or to let the user turn a normal spell into an aura.

   Disjunction is basically an absolute: within it’s area of effect, magic ceases to exist for a time. Upgrades revolve around working at ever-increasing ranges, increasing the duration, or increasing the level of fine control. While a “personal immunity” upgrade would, of course, be about the ultimate sorcerous power and defense, there are sound theoretical grounds to believe it impossible.

   Duplication allows the user to duplicate the formula of observed spells. Upgrades can allow the user to attempt to duplicate such a spell on the fly or to put formulas to use directly from a record.

   Extension simply gives spells with a duration of “sustained” an unattended duration of 1d6 turns per time Extension is taken after the user stops sustaining them. It may be taken as often as desired.

   Maintaining simply reduces the penalties for sustaining spells and may be taken repeatedly to continue reducing them. Further upgrades can allow the user to maintain spells while (1) sleeping, or even while (2) knocked unconscious, to transfer the effort of maintaining a spell to an allied spirit, or even to make such spells intermittently self-sustaining, so that he or she can do something else and simply give them a few moments of attention every turn or so.

   Matrix allows the user to designate a spell which is unaffected by astral disturbances short of mana voids and can be used without having to become dual-natured. Further upgrades allow the user to swap out which spell is so designated given a few minutes in which to work, to protect additional spells, to reduce the drain of a protected spell, and to upgrade the effective maximum force of a protected spell.

    Psychic Reservoir provides a two-box “stun buffer” that can only be used to absorb damage from drain the first time it’s taken and provides one additional box per additional time it’s taken. Other upgrades can increase the rate at which it recovers above the base of one per hour or allow the user to store enough magic to cast a few spells under low-magic conditions.

   Reflecting allows the user to turn spells back against their caster. Upgrades can allow the user to reflect many awakened or spirit powers, to protect areas, to incorporate reflecting functions into wards, and even the ability to reflect emotional energies – turning hostility, insults, belittlement, and even sarcasm back upon the user.

   Severing allows the user to break astral links, including the ties to genetic samples, links to foci, and similar bonds. Upgrades include the ability to attack the bonds between a conjurer and his or her spirits, the ability to attack the link between a body and an astrally-projecting creature, the ability to (1) attack with a magical weapon without inflicting physical wounds, and (2) to partially, or (3) totally bypass physical armor, or even to (4) attack the target’s essence directly, and the ability to attack specific mental or mystical traits, such as addictions or links with supernatural entities (this is usually temporary).

   Shielding provides bonus dice for spell defense and allows the user to increase the target numbers of magical effects used against anyone he or she is protecting. Upgrades can increase both bonuses, allow the user to protect an area rather than specific targets, increase teh target numbers for unresisted spells, such as enhanced senses, render the user automatically immune to his or her own spells (in case of reflection or when you really need that ground-zero fireball),

   Trigger allows the user to “precast” a limited number of spells. In it’s basic form, this simply means taking the drain in advance – although stored spells lose potency in 28 days. Further upgrades can provide bonus dice (for having been able to take your time) when releasing stored spells, increase the number of spells which can be stored, allow the user to release more than one precast spell at the same time without penalty, extend the length of time which spells can be successfully stored, and (at very high levels of initiation) to allow spells to precast themselves when specific trigger conditions are met, similar to “anchoring”.

   Will Force enhances spontaneous sorcery, such as magical children and untrained potential mages are wont to use when under stress. The basic rules for spontaneous sorcery are actually relatively simple: the would-be magus states what spell he or she is attempting to use (whether or not such a spell actually exists), pays a karma point (which will recover normally; kids sometimes get away without using the karma point, but no one really knows why), makes a willpower (6) check to see what force the spell will go off at (no successes means a failure, the user need not use all his or her successes), allocates up to (Intelligence) dice from his or her spell pool to cast it with, and then resists drain at +1 power and +1 level (spells with a base drain level above serious cannot be cast spontaneously). Characters with Will Force can drastically reduce these modifiers. Level (1) reduces the willpower target number to 5, and eliminates the +1 power modifier. (2) allows the use of one-half the user’s sorcery skill and normal usage of the spell pool instead of drawing dice directly from the spell pool and allows one attempt at improvisation per day without using a karma point, (3) reduces the target number for the willpower test to 4 and allows up to three improvisational spells per day without spending karma, and (4) allows the full use of the Sorcery skill. Unfortunately, no known upgrade eliminates the need for a willpower check or the +1 drain power level modifiers. Other upgrades can provide a +1d6 modifier on the relevant rolls with respect to a narrow field of magic (yes, “recently observed spells” or “available formulas that I haven’t learned yet” are viable categories and this may be taken several times for a single field) or grant additional karma-free daily attempts at improvised magic.